Leukemia is a malignant progressive disease derived from stem cells of the hematopoietic system that results in an uncontrollable proliferation in leucocyte and also in erythrocyte-but, this is rare. Leukemia is an early blood-forming cells cancer that has different types.
Cancer starts when the body cells begin to grow abnormally or out of control. These cells can turn into cancer and spread to other areas of the body.
What is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia?
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is a type of leukemia that is associated with the excessive growing cells, which should have formed lymphocytes but turn into malignant and abnormal. It can be described as cancer that starts from the lymphocytes in the bone marrow. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia symptoms are more common in children than in adults. This cancer is 25%-30% of whole cancers found in children. The studies indicate that the cases of ALL in children mostly occur to the age of 3-6 and most of them are boys.
Leukemia can progress quickly. It explains the term “acute”. If it is not treated, it would be more malignant and fatal within a few months. Lymphoblastic means it develops from immature forms of lymphocytes. ALL mainly affects the blood and bone marrow, and possibly spread to other areas.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Symptoms and Common Signs
This disease causes many different symptoms and signs. Most of the Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia symptoms occur in all kinds of ALL, but some of them are more common with specific subtypes.
Several non-specific symptoms of ALL that patients usually experience are fever, extreme weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, and appetite loss.
2. Low Blood Cell Counts and Several Symptoms Follow It
Most of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia symptoms and signs are caused by the lack of normal blood cells. These symptoms occur when the leukemia cells disrupt the process of making normal blood cells in the bone marrow. Some symptoms caused by this shortage include:
- Often feels tired and weak
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded all the time or all of sudden
- Long-term infections, including pneumonia
- Bruising easily
- Nose bleeding and bleeding gums frequently
- Dyspnea with exertion
- Cardiac flow murmur
3. Abdominal Swelling
Abdominal swelling is one of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia symptoms. It occurs due to the spleen and liver swelling. This condition occurs because the leukemia cells build up in these organs. This symptom can be felt especially after eating, though only a small amount. Even when these organs are enlarged, it can be felt by touching the surface of the belly, though they are covered by the lower ribs.
4. Lymph Nodes Swelling
An Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia that has spread to the lymph nodes causes swelling and can be noticed as lumps under the skin. Some lymph nodes inside the abdomen and chest can be swollen as well. These conditions can be detected by undergoing CT or MRI scan scans.
5. Bone and Joint Pain
When the sufferers feel pain in the bone or joint, it might be caused by the leukemia cells growth near the surface or inside the bone and joint.
6. Enlarged Thymus
The thymus is a small organ between the chest and the breastbone. It lies in front of the trachea. The thymus can be enlarged due to the T-cell subtype of ALL. This condition causes breathing problem and coughing because of the pressure of the enlarged thymus on the trachea.
7. Spread of Cancer Cells to Other Organs
In several cases, ALL can spread to other organs. It can spread to the brain and spinal cord. It causes seizures, vomiting, terrible headaches, blurred vision, and facial numbness. It can spread to the cast cavity as well and cause breathing problem and fluid buildup. Rarely, the ALL cells spread to the kidneys, eyes, testicles, or other organs. Renal failure might occur in patients with a high tumor burden. If it spreads to the skin, the patient might experience rashes from skin infiltration.
What Factors Increase The Risks of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia?
The scientists are still not sure what causes the all. But, there are some risk factors. These are all things that increase the risks of getting this disease. Each type of cancer has a different risk factor. If you have one or more of these risk factors, it doesn’t mean you will suffer from cancer.
1. Radiation Exposure
It has been known for a long time that the high levels of radiation exposure can increase acute leukemia risk. It has been proven by the research to the effect of atomic bomb explosions in Japan at the end of World War II. It has been found that the explosions cause high rates of leukemia. A little evidence was also found that childhood X-Rays also increase the risk of ALL.
2. Genetic Factors
Several rare inherited conditions might increase the risk of ALL. The conditions include Fanconi Anaemia, Ataxia Telangiectasia, and Down’s syndrome.
3. Weakened Immunity
The researchers and scientists found that people with HIV or AIDS and those who underwent an organ transplant have highers risk of leukemia than people without these factors.
4. Smoking and Excessive Coffee
Several studies have shown that smoking increase the risk of ALL in adults and children. Meanwhile, French ESCALE study in 2013 point the data that drinking more than 2 cups of coffee a day during pregnancy may slightly increase the risk ALL in children.
How to Diagnose Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia?
Certain Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia symptoms and signs can suggest that someone might have this disease. However, it is a must to undergo some tests to confirm the diagnosis. Medical history and physical exams will be done to diagnose whether the patient has this disease.
The physical exams include the exams of enlarged lymph nodes, eyes, mouth, skin, bruising or bleeding areas, and whole nervous system.
Other important tests used to classify and diagnose Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia symptoms include blood tests, bone marrow tests, chromosome tests, lymph node biopsy, lumbar puncture, X-Rays, CT scans, gallium scan, and also bone scan.